Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Bush Unfolds Iraq Strategy

President Bush, finally, gave a detailed accounting of the situation in Iraq and what the U.S. is attempting to accomplish, but like much that he has done with Iraq his presentation comes off flat.

While most of the details were obvious and already public, like training Iraqi security forces, the strategy paper reads like a laundry list. Instead of leading off with what has been accomplished in Iraq, the paper goes on for 12 pages discussing the overall situation. Finally, on page 13 there are several links to government reports that note major accomplishments.


It is terribly obvious that the paper was written by a committee using the most bland language imaginable. Couldn't Tom Clancy be hired on a freelance basis to punch up they story line?

Bush's staff knew that this was not a normal run of the mill report for meant only for internal government consumption. Instead, the president is using this strategy sheet to explain to the world what he is doing and to hopefully take down his naysayers in the process. The document should have shouted the Coalition's accomplishments. It should have made a boisterous point-by-point rebuttal against the arguments that the Iraq situation is a failure.

Instead it reads like an ingredient list on a box of cereal. "Look! Extra riboflavin."

My fear is the president's staff expected that Bush himself could sell the argument during his speeches over the next few days. If this is their intention then it was a major blunder.

President Bush is many things, but a good public speaker he is not.

Somebody in the White House has to say that the emperor has no clothes and explain to the president that he comes across just as his tormentors describe, as a not so bright individual who is in way over his head. This goes beyond simple mispronounciations, which anyone can make. He seemingly cannot speak off the top of his head, nor ad lib answers.

The document had to do the selling and it falls short.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Back To Beheadings

It would appear Iraqi terror groups want to give one of their old tactics another run.

Over the past few days the number of foreigners abducted and shown on the web has jumped. According the New York Times an American along with several Canadian, European and Iranians have been kidnapped in Iraq. This methodology was all the rage in Iraq last year when beheadings took place on what seemed to be a weekly basis. The killings proved useless as a method of inciting change and petered out, except for those involving local Iraqis kidnapped for ransom purpsoes.

This has to be a sign of desperation. When a terrorist is reduced to snatching people as dedicated to removing US forces from Iraq as the terrorists then he is certainly running out of options. Several of those captured belong to the anti-war group the Christian Peacemakers. These folks have been doing good deeds in Iraq for quite some time, but their humanitarianism and political stance did not protect them from the crazies.

These terrorist have to be among the dumbest in Iraq. Germany has done nothing but voice its displeasure over Iraq, why get that nation angry. If I were a Frenchmen in Baghdad I'd be heading home about now.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Paul Hellyer Needs Some Busting

I waited close to three minutes before I decided to take a few shots at Paul Hellyer, the man mentioned in the prior blog entry.

The three minute lag is actually an impressive gap once you see how badly this guy is aching for a roasting. As listed in his Wikipedia entry, Paul was a relatively normal politician for most of his public life until he apparently went off the deep end over UFOs sometime in the late '60s. I think the '60s and its emergent drug culture, I'm thinking mushrooms of the psychedelic sort, had a bigger impact our buddy then the UFO craze of that period.

The opening paragraph is priceless:

On June 3, 1967 Hellyer flew in by helicopter to officially inaugurate an Unidentified flying object landing pad in St. Paul, Alberta. the town had built the landing pad as its Canadian Centennial celebration project, and as a symbol of keeping space free from human warfare. The sign beside the pad reads: "The area under the World's First UFO Landing Pad was designated international by the Town of St. Paul as a symbol of our faith that mankind will maintain the outer universe free from national wars and strife. That future travel in space will be safe for all intergalactic beings, all visitors from earth or otherwise are welcome to this territory and to the Town of St. Paul."

I wonder if St. Paul appears on the Intergalactic Google Map as Earth's designated UFO airport so aliens know where to go? I imagine it could be pretty diffucult for a traveller from the delta quadrant to find St. Paul, which I'm sure is a major metropolis, from orbit.

The line about maintaining the outer universe free from national wars and strife sounds like he wants to set up an inter galactic UN. He also must have access to an advanced spacecraft since he wants to instill his vision into the outer universe. That is pretty far considering humans have yet to travel passed the moon.

Canadian Goes Crazy

This story is so funny all by itself that I'm not going to attempt to bust on it. At least not right now.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Democrats Sink To A New Low

After a week where Demorcats in Congress tried to undermine the war, a Massachusettes' Democrat has aligned himeslf with Venuzuelen's Communist President Hugo Chavez in order to score politcal points at home.

U.S. Rep. William Delahunt of Massachusetts, met with Chavez and brokered a deal where the oil rich country would sell cheap oil to poor people in Mass. According to CNN, Delahunt called the move a humanitarian gesture by Chavez. You have to love the picture on the CNN story of Joseph Kennedy II hauling a hose from an oil tanker. No doubt where that families loyalty lies.

Does Delahunt need votes so badly that he is willing to sell out to a man who is doing his damndest to reinvent the Soviet Union? Chavez has called for an end to American style capitilism and has ruined the Venezuelen economy by nationalizing many of its industries. Would he take cheap oil from Iranians, too?

By working with Chavez Delahunt has lost all his credibility not to mention the fact that he is now in debt to a foreign leader.

I hope someone in Congress stands up and points out this despicable behavior for all to see when Congress comes back into session.

Monday, November 21, 2005

What Not To Do In a Hostage Situation

Over the weekend a guy went crazy and shot up a shopping mall in Tacoma, Wash. Part of his shooting spree included taking several people hostage in a Sam Goody store.

While being held the phone rang and one hostage, a store employee, decided to answer. Who was on the other end the police, a family member checking in on a loved one? Nope, just the Associated Press.

While the suspect was in the music store, employee Joe Hudson was able to pick up the phone call from The Associated Press and say he and others had been taken hostage. He said little more but could be heard telling others that he was talking to the AP.

I can't decide who was more foolish, Joe or the AP. That both did something stupid goes without saying.

Why in the world is an Associated Press reporter calling the store? To get a fresh quote? I'm a reporter. I've had to call people in tough situations, after a loved one is killed for example. But common sense leads one to wait until a situation is over before you start harassing someone for a quote.

What if the gunman decided to kill Joe because he was chatting on the phone. He could have thought Joe was calling the police. And he was a person who had already shot six people so he probably would not have given to much thought of plugging good old Joe if he felt threatened.

The AP would then have been responsible for someone's death.

What if a police hostage negotiator was trying to get through and Joe was busy chatting with a reporter?

Next, what was Joe thinking, that the caller might be a customer checking to see if a new CD was in stock. Unless the gunman told him to pick up the phone there was no reason not to let it ring.

Luckily, the situation ended with the gunman surrendering to police, but Joe and the AP are damn lucky something worse did not happen.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Murtha Waves The White Flag

I have never been in combat. I served in the army, but never heard a shot fired in anger. If you require a person to have first hand knowledge of what it's like to get shot in order to comment on the war then read no farther.

I am stating this clearly to separate myself from the Rep. John Murtha and several milbloggers I will link to later. Murtha's comments yesterday are doing a terrible disservice to the men and women fighting in Iraq. In fact the wording of his denouncement of the war, which he voted for, is so out of the ordinary for this decorated Vietnam Marine veteran that I have to wonder if he has not had some type of memory lapse.

In the CNN report Murtha said, the Bush administration's management of the conflict "a flawed policy wrapped in illusion," and said the continued presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is "uniting the enemy against us." (Watch Murtha's take on 'flawed policy wrapped in illusion' -- 8:11) "It's time to bring the troops home," he said, noting that a withdrawal would take about six months to complete.

Murtha was a Marine colonel, a rank not easily attained. He served in Vietnam and could not have been all that happy with the likes of Jane Fonda and others who openly called the war a mistake lobbied hard for its ending.

So what in the world is Murtha doing making comments akin to what John Kerry did after his Vietnam experience ended? He has to know that any statement coming from a US government official will be used as fodder for the terrorist propaganda machine. He is yanking the carpet right out from under our guys on the front lines.

According to every media report on Murtha that I've read, he has always been a strong advocate of the military. He distincly did not pull a Kerry and stab his fellow veteran's in the back. This makes his commentary even more powerful in our enemies hands. I can understand if he feels the war is not going according to plan, no war ever does, but why not work behind the scenes to get the troops home. By doing the opposite he is giving the terrorists more reason to hold on longer, to fight harder and kill more soldiers and Marines.

I suppose he feels going public will make events happen quicker.

I personally do not advocate a quick exit at this stage of the war. If we leave with Iraq in a state of chaos then all the troops will have died in vain. Creating a stable Iraq will save lives down the road, with or with WMD ever having been found.

I think Rep. Murtha has lost touch with those in the military. Those writing Mil blogs do not paint a rosey picture of what is happening in Iraq, but they also show that much good is being done, and also being ignored by the main stream media. Check out blog for some more on this angle.

Murtha took VP Cheney to task as a person who avoided military service, yet sends people off to war. ( I wonder what his opinion on fellow Dem Clinton is?) While I personally feel this is a semi-justified comment, the point of the matter is civilians control our military. Many high government officials have not served in the military nor should they be required to do so.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

United Nations' Newest Folly

The UN's latest idea to bridge the technology gap in undeveloped countries is a hand-cranked laptop computer.

The $100 device was shown in the NY Times today with a technologically savvy Kofi Anan bravely cranking the device at about 100rpm so he could watch a DVD, perhaps Out of Africa. The computer was developed by MIT and Annan expressed hope that the free computers would help spur learning in poor countries.

This little project has to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the UN lives only in its own world. A place far removed from the reality where the rest of the world resides. I think the second you step through the gates at UN headquarters you are instantly transported into an entirely different dimension where daily worries of hunger, war and sickness don't exist.

MIT said it does not plan to sell the laptops, but will only distribute them through large government programs. I have no idea whether the UN intends to pursue this little project, but before it decides to sink a few billion dollars into the venture let's hope these questions are answered first:

1. How many innoculations would $100 buy? After all a person dying of typhoid is not likely to need a computer.

2. How many teachers could be hired with the money? Computers do not educate, people do.

3. What good is a computer without the Internet? Are there enough Starbucks outlets in Rwanda so the average Tutsi tribesman will have access to a wireless network

4. Will the average Sudanese tribesman use the laptop as a club to defend himself agains the local warring factions instead of finding hard core pornography.

5. Finally, what is the average kick back the UN official in charge of the distribution program can expect.

Where are the UN's priorities. You have the vast majority of Africa dealing with an AIDS epidemic, Avian flu outbreaks across Asia, various Muslim groups attempting to kill everyone all across the globe and yet the UN's leader is wasting time with a device that will help none of the above affected groups.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

And now for something completetly different....

For some reason the Country Music Awards were held in NY City this week.

I'm not exactly sure when, I guess Monday or Tuesday, which just goes to show the impact the CMAs had on The Big Apple. Nada, zero, off the radar. Most NYers would not have even known about the show except for the banners hanging from all the street light poles and the Chevy trucks that were parked out front of Madison Square Garden.

Considering the entire middle of the country loves this music, it's pretty amazing that gets so little attention in NY. However, there is no country music station within about 50 miles of NY, there might be a few cowboy themed bars in the city, but then again there are also bars for people who like to dress up in leather and get beaten with a Cat O Nine Tails. Actually, there are probably quite a few of the latter type of establishment.

If the CMA awards are held in a city and nobody notices, did they really happen? Interesting philosophical point perhaps.

The end result of this experiment is likely to be the death of country music. I read in the gossip section of the NY Daily News that Kenny Chesney was spotted at the Four Seasons!! Good God, I wonder who was at Elaine's or hanging with the hip-hop crowd. Once the good old boys and girls from the sticks see that their stars were not drinking at Hogs and Heffers, but dining at The Union Squar Cafe then all hell is lible to break loose. No more record sales, people trading in their Dodge Pickup for a Toyota, basically the end of the world as we know it.

Stop the Chinese Rhetoric

I'm all for democracy in China, but I have to wonder about the timing of President Bush’s calling for major democratic reforms as he was about to land in Beijing on a state visit.

Bad mouthing your host, whether deserved or not, is simply poor etiquette and the U.S. already has enough image problems these days.

If Bush believes China does not meet certain international standards on how it treats its citizens then he should not have gone on the trip. He should have China’s favorite nation trading status revoked by Congress and take other measures, such as stopping the import of Chinese goods until that country decides to adhere to copy write regulations.

But his speech is all par for the course.

Our entire approach to China is a sham. We constantly talk tough then let the Chinese walk all over us. We can’t recognize Taiwan as its own nation, despite the unflinching support that country has always given us, yet we are willing to held defend it against an attack from the mainland.

For two reasons the mainland Chinese government is not going to attack or invade Taiwan. Not today, tomorrow, never.

First, it is a militarily difficult operation. China does not have a large enough navy to pull off an amphibious invasion. Taiwan would suffer grievously from air attacks, but it has a large and qualitatively superior air force so it would exact a high price from China.

But, the primary reason China will not attack is because its government does not want to ruin a good thing. The country is now making a fortune in manufacturing. Any attack on Taiwan would destroy its ability to do business with the rest of the world. Embargoes and sanctions, more so then direct attacks on the factories, would devastate the Chinese economy.

While there is always a threat that a mentally unbalanced Chinese leader could start a war, the odds are not in favor of this taking place.

That is what President Bush should be talking about. He should be telling China’s leader’s that Taiwan is not coming back under the mainland’s control. End of discussion. If China attempts to attack Taiwan we will not only defend it, but stop all trade for the next 20 years. America can live without $39 DVD players until another nation takes China’s place as a cheap manufacturing hub.

Perhaps India.

Democracy will eventually come to mainland China. Not for years, but eventually if business keeps up a middle class will develop and demand more authority.

Friday, November 11, 2005


It is the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.

Please remember those who have served and were not able to return home. And those now serving in a far away place where none of them want to be. However, they are there on the ramparts helping keep you safe.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Clash of Realities

A NY Times article Letter From Paris must have been written by a French bureau of Tourism official.

The story paints a picture of a calm and peaceful Paris with packed cafes and tourists happily wandering the streets. The reporter, Donald Morrison, even goes so far as to say that the usual heavy French police presence has been reduced. However, he does not say that this is because all the cops have gone to the suburbs to keep the rioters out of the Paris city center.

Morrison writes:

The various French police forces - which report to the national government, not the localities - have evidently been pulled off the central streets and deployed elsewhere. The effect, paradoxically, has been to lower the stress level for the average tourist: With fewer riot cops in view, you're more likely to think about things besides rioting.

Talk about turning lemons into lemonade.

Deployed elsewhere? Sounds like they were sent on vacation.

Fewer cops around are supposed to make you feel safer? If I chose this inopportune time to visit Paris I would be pretty worried that the city streets were stripped of cops in order to hold back the rioters.

Morrison's next bit of sleight of hand is nothing more then an outrightl lie.

The reality - contrary to what foreigners may deduce from television broadcasts of burning cars with the word "Paris" superimposed over them - is that the rioting remains distant from visitors. It has so far been confined to a handful of relatively distant, heavily working-class, immigrant communities.

At its peak a few days ago riots were taking place in 300 French cities and towns including dozens of Paris neighborhoods. I'm not sure what measurement is considered "distant" by Morrison, but there is not much of a buffer if De Gaulle airport is 15 miles from the tourist areas and the rioters are somewhere in between. I'm sure its close enough to see and smell the smoke from the burning Renaults.

Now I can understand why the French national news organizations are downplaying the events with the idea that showing burning cars will incite more rioting. The riots are a potential disaster for tourism and French self-esteem, always fragile, is taking a beating. It seems to get the best coverage on the rioters Frenchmen have turned to overseas coverage.

What does the Times expect to gain by publishing shiny, happy news? Does it somehow reflect poorly on the Times that France is having so much trouble? This is a mind boggling story.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Paris Is Burning, Again

Well, at least this time its not the Germans lighting the fires.

The riots that have run for the past week or so in Paris' Muslim neighborhoods are going to bring several issues to a head.

What the riots show is that France is a nation of bigots. Perhaps even worse then what existed in the American south during the 1950s. I say worse because they let these people come into their nation, set them up in public housing, give them just enough public assistance to survive, yet make no provision for turning them into Frenchmen. At least in the U.S. the racism was blatant, if terrible. France's racism is carefully cloaked under a veil of multiculturalism. Because God/Allah forbid the world does not have a pleasant image of France.

The French and other Euros have screamed for decades that everyone is equal, we must respect those who are different, etc. But when push comes to shove, the French took the normal European solution in dealing with people they dislike. They locked them into ghettoes. Just ask the Jews how things work on the other side of the Atlantic even before Hitler came to power. European Ghettoes have been around since medieval times.

I don't hold out any great hope that the French government will get its act together fast enough to solve the situation before it blows even further out of control. I believe this because comments from French officials still reflect France's true views on the issue.

On the multicultural front is Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin. He has used the word "respect" about 140 times during the past seven days. He thinks if the Muslims are given more respect then the situation will solve itself.

On the flip side is Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. He has called for wiping the "scum" off the face of Paris.

Well guys, guess what? You both got it wrong. You can respect these people until they put a Molotov cocktail through your window or you can shoot them dead in the street, but it won't solve the problem, at least not for the long haul.

France needs to undergo what the U.S. had to suffer through 50 years ago. A massive introspective look at itself. The U.S. was lucky in that it had a Martin Luther King jr. to force change in a more or less peaceful fashion. The Watts, Detroit and Newark riots were exceptions. Unfortunately for France it does not look like their is a MLK amidst the teens torching Paris.

However, the next level of danger for France is when the terrorists groups move into these neighborhoods in full strength. If ever there was a breeding ground for homegrown suicide bombers, this is it. If the French government can't get off its collective cheese eating butt and fix the problem, the the French Army could find itselft asking the U.S. Army for tips on how to spot IEDs.

I wonder if we will help them out for a third time?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Everyone Loves Alito...

At least that is the perception one gets from reading the nothing but glowing accounts of the man nominated by President Bush for the Supreme Court.

But the bit of journalism that indicates that Samuel Alito will be given a thumbs up by Congress comes from the NY Times. Yes, the bastion of the left, the paper that never met a conservative it didn't like, today published a massive story containing only positives stories about Alito.

In one way it is kind of scary how the Times manages to dig up everyone from a person's past, but from a local store owner to fellow high school students to college professors were called and asked their opinion and nobody had anything bad to say.

What might be the jewel in the story that proves Alito, despite his leaning to the right, is a great pick for the job is the following:

At Yale Law School, where he was in the class behind Justice Clarence Thomas, Judge Alito was widely regarded as one of the smartest students, said Peter Goldberger, a classmate. Mr. Goldberger, who describes himself as a staunch liberal, said it was always enjoyable to get into a discussion with the young Mr. Alito.
"We fundamentally disagreed over just about everything," he said, "but it led to cheerful jousting."
Mr. Goldberger, who has also argued dozens of criminal appeals before Judge Alito, said his style on the bench - as the member of a three-judge panel who talks the least but asks the most perceptive questions - recalled their Yale days.

If a confirmed liberal believes Alito is fair then Sen. Chuck Schumer, Pat Leahy and Ted Kennedy, who looks more like Mayor Quimby from The Simpsons with each passing day, should put aside their unfair rantings and help confirm Alito.

A quick sample of their dissenting opinions"

Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, the senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, accused Mr. Bush of making a "needlessly provocative nomination" to appease conservative critics of Ms. Miers. "Instead of uniting the country through his choice, the president has chosen to reward one faction of his party, at the risk of dividing the country," Mr. Leahy said.

Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said his first impression was that Judge Alito was not in the mold of Justice O'Connor, the swing vote he would replace.
"Many of the opinions that he has written over the last 15 years cast real doubt on whether he can be a fair, mainstream, albeit conservative judge," Mr. Schumer said.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, called it a "nomination out of weakness rather than strength" and said Democratic suspicions had been raised by the strong support Judge Alito had quickly drawn from conservatives. "They are shouting from the mountaintops for this Alito," said Mr. Kennedy, who had praised Judge Alito during his confirmation hearings for the appellate bench.

Each reacted in a typical knee-jerk fashion that is unbecoming of a United States Senator. Even Hillary Clinton, whom is not well loved by this blog, had the common courtesy and intelligence to say she had to study Alito's background before issueing a statement.

Now, in all fairness hard core conservative Congresmen would have reacted the same way if their position was reversed, but that does not make this situation correct. It merely shows the morally bankrupt state in which our elected officials flounder.